Anxiety Support
33,859 members38,092 posts

Brain Shocks When Falling Asleep

Hi. I am here looking for answers for the strangest thing. I have searched the web quite a bit but most of what I find seems to be years old, so maybe posting now will provide newer information for me to see if I'm able to rest easy again. Lately, when I try to go to sleep, I think I'm about to die. This had been happening for two weeks now, perhaps for four nights out of the week. The thoughts are stemming from a physical sensation that I feel in my chest and head. It's uncanny to me. It really feels like I died for a second. It happens as soon as I am about to enter real sleep, then boom. A hard jolt. I'm not taking about the normal jolt you get sometimes like you feel like you're falling and your body jolts as if to catch your balance. Instead, the jolt feels like my chest sank, my heart stopped beating and my lungs stopped breathing, and at the same time, a surge of electric energy shoots through my brain. Like a circuit breaker switch, or jump starting a car. It feels very electrical and it's SCARY. Also, it's like all sound just stopped, just suddenly faded out. it lasts barely a second and of course I'm wide awake again, heart pounding, big inhalation. Sometimes I have to sit up and shake off the numb feeling in my brain... Literally shaking my head to feel normal again, like a boxer shaking off a punch. This usually occurs when lying on my back, so I'll lie on my side to see if that helps and instead, I either typically can't fall asleep at all that way, or something even worse happens. I'll get this pressure feeling that starts from my chest and radiates to one arm, or both, like a wave, and I panic. It makes me think my heart is bad (but the doc see nothing wrong). Sometimes, one other thing happens that is scarier than all of this when I lie in my side or stomach. My head starts hurting, but in brief spurts, similar to what happens when I'm falling asleep, but this time even if I'm not on the brink of sleep yet. Then, when I am there, the weird zapping feeling occurs, but it's actually painful this time, lasts longer, and I feel the electric surge more specifically... Not just a generalized spark, but a current that starts at one point in my head and travels to another point. Instead of a loss of sound this time, I can hear a zapping, electrical current noise. It's intense and I immediately think stroke. It's so intense that it feels like my head twitches and the adrenaline spike pulls me to my knees in bed or even out of bed completely, so quickly that I'm surprised with how nimbly and easily I was able to move. Like there is a fish hook in my brain and the fisherman just yanks the line too hard and up I go. I sit, or stand there, petrified, and notice my head twitching for a second like a seizure before I'm back to normal, but scared senseless. So .. despite how tired I already am, I'll just stay up until I actually pass out on the couch. Typically, if it happens once, it happens all night at each attempt I make to try and sleep, so getting up and staying up untill I unintentionally fall asleep is the only option. Or alcohol. That helps, but I hate drinking before bed due to the heartburn. I'll take some ibuprofen simply for the placebo affect of taking something... ANYTHING... and that can sometimes make me go to sleep better (even before it has time to actually kick in). The only current changes in my life are that I replaced cigarettes with vaping for almost a month now, and I greatly cut back on diet soda and drink more water. I've been more stressed at work than usual, but I've been stressed before and this is all new. I've had general and social anxiety for my entire life but have had a recent increased in panic attacks due to a recent bout of GERD (before it's confirmed as gerd, I am thinking heart attacks which triggers the instant panic attacks). This though, had already subsided before all this brain zapping stuff. I was taking generic Prilosec. It did start happening after one week of the medicine, but I've taken this same medicine for the same length of time (14days) before without these new issues. I did try a self experiment one night and was able to really focus on my breathing as I tried to sleep.... In... Out... Nice and steady....and on cue, the brain drop feeling occurred as I drifted to sleep. I immediately awoke in alarm like usual. I was able to notice that my breathing pattern was the same as before it occurred, it at least it seemed so. Perhaps the feeling of no air is a response to the panic and is not actually occurring. Whatever is happening, the uncertainty and the potential danger is troubling none the less. It's also annoying. I have been sleep deprived due to it. I can't ever sleep in because my lower back starts hurting bad in the morning, and the only thing I can do stop it is to actually get up and move around. My own internal alarm clock, but instead of sound... Pain. I'm tired. I mention that because... Could it be other issues related to my back pain even if the pain isn't there until mornings? Has anyone who has experienced these issues when trying to sleep every found out the exact cause? I've heard stress, anxiety, pinched nerves, brain disease, heart failure, sleep apnea, out of body experiences or astral projection, Lyme disease, or even being too tired to sleep if you can believe it.

7 Replies
oldestnewest

Hi eletrichead65,i know what you are talking about I use to be like that when I first started on this site,its anxiety and panic attacks. I did all that,now I just feel like I can't breathe,like I'm dying or gonna die so,I constantly feel like I won't see my children grown or grow old with my husband and am constantly going through my days feeling like I'm not real or nothing around me is really there and on top of it I have a choking phobia that is always on my mind. I will say if you every wanna talk or anything I'm always here

1 like
Reply

Hey thanks for the reply. Did you have the weirdness I described as well? The physical sensation I mean.

1 like
Reply

Hello there, I have also experienced the brain zaps you've described and it scares me too! Although it doesn't happen every single evening (that I can remember) but I also take 400 mgs of Seroquel for sleep (I'm bipolar), I have problems with memory so it's hard to say how often it happens to me. The symptoms occur when I lay on my back as well and after the jolt my arms/hands go numb(think I'm going to die, having a heart attack, etc) it makes my anxiety so much worse. If I can't shake the feeling I jump out of bed and go have a smoke to try to calm my nerves. Bad habit I know but that's one way that helps me tone down the stress, anxiety, panic until I'm ready to try to sleep/relax again.

Reply

Yes I did

Reply

Hi i have exactly this and when i tell people they think i am mad ! I have never had an answer to this but i have been told i have sevre anxiety and all ly symptoms are down to this

Reply

Hey, OP here. Sorry about following up so late. So shortly after this occurred, I went to the doctor and he just shrugged it off as allergy problems. Allergies are a huge problem in the spring in the city I'm in so I took his word for it. I took some medicine he prescribed. I only took it for a very short time. I've done more research and think it's a combination of that and just extra stress at the time. Brain zaps are now seldom though, maybe once every two weeks instead every time I drifted off to sleep. It's weird when it happens though. If feels like some horrible tugging, like a mini-seizure or stroke or something. When prescribed the allergy medicine, he also gave me Busphar and man, I thought I was going to die. Panic attacks that lasted for days, so I stopped that medicine and ever since, my digestive system has been abnormal and have been giving me fits for 2 months now. I am now on Omeprazole 40mg, generic Effexor 37.5mg, and low dose generic Xanax to take every now and then (I use mainly just for social situations). No more weird brain drop feelings though.

Reply

Look up Roemheld Syndrome. It's hard to diagnos but very interesting and something I think I have but the doctors can't confirm. The Ativan I take has cured it because it calms the vagus nerve, so I am told. I was also told It was sleep myoclonus and again the same treatment is Ativan a benzodiazepine.

That's why alcohol works, it's a central nervous system depressent.

Ativan is a controlled substance and addicting but anything was better than what I was going through. I hope this helps.

Never give up hope!

Reply

You may also like...